Gunners silenced by Gabriel own goal

Arteta looking at transfer market as holders fail to handle Saints' high-pressing game

Southampton fielded a strong side, with key man Danny Ings (centre) coming back from a hamstring injury and a positive Covid-19 test to play alongside ex-Arsenal forward Theo Walcott.
Southampton fielded a strong side, with key man Danny Ings (centre) coming back from a hamstring injury and a positive Covid-19 test to play alongside ex-Arsenal forward Theo Walcott.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta admitted his side could not deal with Southampton's high-pressing game as the Saints dumped the FA Cup holders out of the competition yesterday.

Ralph Hasenhuttl's men won 1-0 courtesy of a Gabriel own goal to set up a fifth-round meeting with Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The much-changed Gunners, who have won the FA Cup a record 14 times, fell behind in the first half and could not find a way back.

"Really sad to be out of the competition. Disappointed to be out and the way we conceded," Arteta told BT Sport.

"We had issues in the first half and unforced errors as a result of the high press they do. In the second half, we had two or three big chances but not enough.

"It was an even game. In the first half, they won a lot of second balls. In the second half, we added more quality. We became more dominant and created chances but it wasn't enough.

"We are looking in the market and see what we can do."

Hasenhuttl fielded a strong side at St Mary's, with Danny Ings returning after a hamstring injury and a positive coronavirus test alongside former Arsenal forward Theo Walcott.

Arteta made seven changes from their 3-0 Premier League win against Newcastle on Monday.

Southampton - who had never previously beaten Arsenal in the FA Cup with one draw and four defeats - were the brighter team in the first half in the winter sunshine on England's south coast.

The Saints got the reward their positive approach deserved in the 24th minute.​

  • 508 Gabriel's own goal was the first goal Arsenal have conceded since Tammy Abraham's strike for Chelsea on Boxing Day, ending the Gunners' run of 508 minutes (five games) without conceding in all competitions.

Mohamed Elneny gave away possession on the edge of his own box and the ball was worked to Kyle Walker-Peters on the right.

The defender drilled it across the six-yard area and it was inadvertently turned in by Gabriel - the first time rejuvenated Arsenal had conceded since Dec 26 in a 3-1 Premier League win over Chelsea.

When asked by reporters if the defender - who has not played since before Christmas - is rusty, Arteta said: "Maybe. He hasn't played enough minutes in the last month or so since he had the Covid.

"He had to stay at home, he hasn't trained as much as we would like him to."

Arsenal found their feet in the second half and goalkeeper Fraser Forster was forced to make a sharp save with his feet to keep out Eddie Nketiah's deflected shot.

Arteta then threw on forward Alexandre Lacazette and the striker was inches away from getting on the end of a teasing cross as the minutes ticked away, but Arsenal could not find an equaliser.

The exit will be a bitter disappointment for the Gunners, who have won the FA Cup four times in the past seven seasons - in sharp contrast to their labours in the Premier League.

Arteta's side will return to Southampton for a league meeting on Tuesday, aiming to continue their fine recent run that has lifted them to 10th in the table.

Hasenhuttl was pleased with his side's display, but urged his players to be more clinical in front of goal.

"We had in the first half more punch and more power," he said on BT Sport.

"In the second half, it's normal they have a lift. We must make the second goal. We made one or two chances.

"We had early ball wins, but our last decision-making was not always the best. In general our work without the ball was good. It was a good team performance today."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS


ENGLISH FA CUP

Southampton 1

Arsenal 0

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 24, 2021, with the headline 'Gunners silenced by Gabriel own goal'. Subscribe